Crampy stiff mare. . . What could this be?

Long story. . . I have a recently acquired rescue 5 year OTTB mare. She was never raced, never in race training, as far as I can tell. She was thrown in a pasture with a herd of other horses and who knows how often they were fed etc. . . Basically, my farrier’s wife took her in because no one wanted her and lo and behold, she moves super cute, so she was given to me. I had the vet out, we wormed her, had her teeth done, made sure she had appropriate vaccinations, and a basic phsical exam with flexions, which came back totally clean, aside from horrific feet, which we have been working on. I started her with light lunging a few days per week and have now started her, she is a dream, so easy to work with! She can be a tad lazy, but has progressed over the last 2 months from nothing to walk, trot, canter and basic trot poles. She has been completely sound until yesterday when she came in a tiny bit stiff, she is a huge player in the pasture and we have had a little bit of rain over the last couple days, so I just assumed she slipped, or had kicked someone (which as the pasture princess, she sometimes does), and gotten kicked back. I checked her over and found nothing, no heat, no swelling and no sore spots. Today, she is REALLY stiff. . .it kind of looks like everything hurts. . .I cannot pin point an exact location, and I’m usually pretty good at finding pain. Coincidentally, she also came into season today, or today is the first time I’ve seen it. I called our vet who is a friend and he says it probably has nothing to do with her being in season, but to give her 2 grams of bute with dinner and see how it goes. I’ve done that, but I want to know what’s going on! Have you guys ever had a problem like this? She has had yesterday and today off and has never been worked very strenuously. . . I’m stumped :confused:

Banamine would be better than Bute, IMO, if it is a soft tissue injury from pasture play. The first ‘heat’ of the season is usually a stronger/more stressful to the mare estrus cycle than the later ones of the year. My guess is both are bothering her.

Thanks! I gave Bute because I had flavored powder. . . the vet said either would be fine, but she isn’t great for injections, and I was the only one there. He said if she wasn’t any better tomorrow, he would stop by. (We are lucky he lives nearby) I hope its just a silly injury and not anything serious!

We had a mare get crampy with work, turned out to be a Selenium shortage. We are MI, which has almost no Selenium, so there is none in hay grown here, grazing in pastures. She had both a sore back and was “off” though not lame, in her gaits. She was gone over stem to stern, no actual injury, sore point the blame. Found a ton of egg clusters in her, pointing at poor cycling, part of the sore back issues. Selenium test was kind of a shot in the dark, to cover odd angles that were not injury related.

You can get a test done, check her levels. Lack of Selenium will show with being easily tired, even if horse has worked regularly. Also affects the reproductive system, making horse sore, eggs in cycle coming in multiples, muscle soreness for no visible reason.

For bad shortages the Vet will give shots to give a fast boost, then you can feed a supplement on her grain. Supplement needs Vit E included to allow horse to absorb and use the Selenium in her body. We got a second Selenium test in a few months, to see that she actually was using the Selenium supplement in her body, tested at normal levels then, and each year after.

Using a horse will make him “use up” their Selenium in the body, so a working horse that sweats often, can get really low in a short time. We work our horses and sweat them often to condition them for competition, so we supplement them individually to insure each animal gets ENOUGH Selenium with Vit E to keep them at normal levels.

Amazing how many places in the horse body NEED that touch of Selenium to work correctly. Midwest is famous for lack of Selenium in the soils, along with places on the East Coast, so horses NEED to be supplemented with it and the Vit E. A horse we purchased in Virginia was almost as bad in low Selenium, as our working mare when we tried to use him. And he had been being used hunting weekly, driving. He just could not “last in work” with our horses who were not fit at all, so we had him tested for Selenium. He got the shots, then supplemented, was up to normal again in a bit, and turned out to be a working fool! Very nice horse, just lacked a key ingredient in his diet that kept him from being his best.

Mares are a bit more affected with Selenium lack, because of their monthly heat cycles, but lack can affect any horse you try to use.

Also is there any chance she is tying up?
My TB would tie up, not fun.

Good news! The vet came out yesterday and we ultra sounded her ovaries and found several “clusters” of eggs. He thinks she is suffering from a very intense “cycle.” As she is vastly improved today, we are going to see if this normalizes on its own. If she is miserable next time she comes into season, he says there are a couple of options to make her a happier pony! Thanks for all your help!

Not sure if you are referring to an IV or IM injection but Banamine should not be given IM only IV or orally.

Glad to hear you found out what is wrong with your mare.

I was also going to suggest selenium…might not hurt to check her levels.


The next time you see the Vet, ask him or her to dispense to you some tubes of oral Banamine paste. Each tube has multiple doses, how many depends on what amount your Vet recommends for your particular horse and situation.